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Aerospace Flapping wing Vs. conventional aircraft

  1. May 29, 2010 #1
    I have noticed a lot of research in flapping wings for micro aerial vehicles. Is there an advantage to vehicle with flapping wings vs. a rigid wing or a rotor craft such as a helicopter or quad rotor. I am sure it can depend on the situation and maybe there hasn't been enough research yet but what kind of situation would a flapping wing vehicle be the best choice?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2010 #2
    Some reasons for looking at flapping wing / flexible wing MAV's vs. rigid wing MAV's...

    1) At the low reynolds numbers (low flight air speeds < 10 m/s) being dealt with conventional wings a very much less efficient then at much greater reynolds numbers.

    2) Fixed wing MAV's have lower agility to deal with indoor obstacle avoidance.

    3) Rotary wing MAV's are too noisy as well as suffer from efficiency effects of low reynolds numbers.
  4. May 30, 2010 #3
    Why are flapping wing MAVs more maneuverable?
  5. May 30, 2010 #4
    Because the wing beat frequency is much higher.
  6. May 31, 2010 #5
    It's a theoretical concept. I haven't seen an actual MAV example that demonstrates this but I'm woefully lacking in following MAV development :wink: so take my comment with a grain of salt.

    Conceptually a fixed wing MAV will have a harder time maneuvering in confined indoors spaces because of the airspeed or wing span & surface area needed for very low speed flight. Contrast to that of a small bird or insect that easily maneuvers in confined spaces at very low forward airspeeds and even hovers. So the idea is that a MAV based on the same principles flight principles of birds or insects would be more agile in that respect vs. a conventional wing.

    Here are a couple of papers on the topic:



    Flapping flight is quite complicated to describe. But consider the following difference to expound a bit more on the concept above.

    Fixed wing aircraft get their primary lift generation as function of forward airspeed and amount of wing span & surface area. (Yes angle of attack is a part of it but the amount of aoa needed is a function of the airspeed.) For MAV flying in confined spaces very slow speeds are needed to avoid running into obstacles. The only way to do that with a fixed wing MAV to reduce it's flyable forward airspeed is to increase the size of the wing. As you can see this is a self defeating proposition - we have to make a larger MAV to fly in smaller spaces. Hmmm.

    Flapping wings get their lift not from forward airspeed of the aircraft but from flapping motion of the wing. Because of this there is less reliance on forward airspeed to generate lift and the amount of lift (and thrust) generated can be controlled by how fast the wings beat. This conceptually solves the issue for a fixed wing MAV trying to fly at very slow airspeeds or even hover.
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